Type A Girl here.
I love children, and I can’t wait for the day Mr. M and I have our own. We’ve arranged our life in a manner that plans for children and is ready to support them if they happen to appear on the scene. But I’m not living in a fantasy world.
I already know what’s going to happen when my precious, mostly-silent infant gains a tongue and mobility: I’m going to be interrupted… all the time.
When I think about our future family, I get this knot of trepidation in my stomach not because I know I’ll be inconvenienced and interrupted, not because life will change, not because some sort of perceived ‘freedom’ is taken away by having kids – but because I know that my current self would have a very, very difficult time dropping everything to take care of pint-size interruptions.
It’s bad enough at work, during my spring cleaning, or even while I’m staring obsessively at my whirring KitchenAid.
I hold up one finger. “Hang on! I’m in the middle of something.”
“I can’t talk right now, I’m doing things.”
Which is a lie, because I’ve always been able to talk while doing things. It’s one of my most developed skill sets.
I work with the most interruptable woman I have ever met. Her name is Joy, and she lives up to that name in everything she does. No matter what she is doing – which is always a lot – she will set it down, look you in the face, and listen to your need. She’ll help you. She’ll take care of you. She’ll even do your job for you. And she’s not the least bit put out by the fact you gave her no notice at all.
Joy is interruptable because people, not projects, are her priority. She still gets work done – but she won’t put her work above her relationships, because in the end, all work depends on relationships to be successful. Here are four reasons being interruptable is a biblical discipline.
1. Interruptable people are patient people.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
I once attempted a Day of Extra Nice.
Considering that I almost never woke up intentionally being nice to anyone, this experience could be equated to starting a 40 day fast right after Christmas. I made it through three interruptions gracefully before I became very weary of ‘doing good’; this due to my impatience.
My impatient nature has its benefits. I get things done quickly; I don’t like to email, chat, or meet when we can take care of something right away, here, and now. I consider multitasking one of my best abilities, and am never happier than when I figure out a way to do two or more things at the same time (painting toenails, watching a documentary and folding laundry simultaneously improve appearance, knowledge, and household!).
But impatience, for the most part, is not my friend. When I stop to consider just how patient God is with me, I am ashamed at how impatient I am to others. I refuse to be interrupted while typing an email; but I can interrupt the God of the universe with my prayers anytime I please.
Not like He’s holding the whole world together or anything.
Being interruptable is to be like Christ. He was patient with all those who called on His name (Luke 18:38), pulled on his robe (Matt. 9:20), and climbed in His lap (Matt. 19:14).
2. Interruptable people are loving people.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
When you read that verse, is your first thought sacrificial death? We think of ‘laying down life’ in terms of dying for someone we love. But sometimes living for someone we love is harder to do!
When we allow ourselves to be interrupted, we are ‘laying down our life’ – our priorities, our plans, our time – for our friends. Or our husbands. Or our kids. That is sacrifice. It might not be death, but it’s death of self. Choosing people over projects, no matter how important those projects may be, is a choice of love. When we consciously choose to love others by making time for them, we take the hard but fruitful road to Christlike love.
I fail miserably here. I justify my impatience because the things I do are FOR the people interrupting me, and ‘they just don’t appreciate all I’m doing for them’. But the truth is… the laundry really CAN wait a day while I listen to my husband’s heart. It would ease MY mind to have it done, but that’s a selfish reason to brush aside a moment that could have been memorable.
3. Interruptable people are trusting people.
“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:2-5)
I don’t know about you, but one of the unconscious reasons I dislike interruption is my concern the task will not get finished. I fear interruptions will lead to a day of incomplete tasks.
But what if the interruption was my task? What if I could cross it off my list as an accomplishment? Isn’t loving people – giving them my full attention – the best accomplishment of my day?
This paradigm shift, a change of perspective, comes more easily when we reframe the issue as a problem of trust, not a problem of efficiency. We don’t trust that God will see to it that all we need is provided – finances, food, or time to organize it all. Because we don’t trust, we cling tightly to these priorities, trying to keep them within our control.
When people enter this white-knuckled sphere, we speedily boot them out in order to stay on track. But God wants us to invite them in. They are a part of His sanctification plan.
As we submit our day’s chores, duties, and lists to the Lord, He WILL interrupt them – but we will be more prepared. We will be prepared to love these interruptions because we trust God will take care of the peripheral stuff. It’s out of our control and into His.
4. Interruptable people are selfless people.
” Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)
My aversion to interruption is pure selfishness, if we want to have the plain, cold truth.
I want MY time, MY way, MY plan. I don’t like being stopped, hindered, or held up on the way. But by letting go of my priorities, I take hold of something beyond myself. It’s the realization that all this planning and list-making is for a bigger purpose… it’s not list-making for the sake of lists (although… that may have occurred at times in my life).
Selfless people are Christlike people. Christ let people interrupt Him. If you think about it, the life of Jesus was one big interruption. What could be of greater inconvenience than all the glory of God taking on the form of a man and daily dealing with the density, foolishness, and downright disrespect of their very existence? The difference is that Jesus was intentional about interruptions. He expected them to happen, and when they came, He always showed grace. In all of the below situations, Jesus was on His way elsewhere and was stopped by these people:
- Zaccheus (Luke 19-1-10)
- Jarius (Mark 5:27-43)
- The bleeding woman (Mark 5:21-43)
- The blind man (Mark 8:22-25)
- The 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
And in every interruption, there was a miracle.
How many grace gifts have we missed by barrelling through interruptions? How many miracles have we blinded ourselves to in our haste to ‘accomplish’?
Being interruptable is a hard discipline, but it is one our Lord Christ has shown us how to do.